Friday, July 7, 2017

CHAPTER 32 : EXPOSITION


The next day there were still no leaf matches on the mirror tree that my DNA was attached to. Rose had noticed that there were two common matches with HK.  She noticed that one of them "almost" matched someone in the tree.  I realized that these two matches were familiar to me.  They were a brother and sister, DG and Eurekapub.  He had some semblance of a tree connected to his results- bare bones- three generations or so.  I had spoken to the sister and she wasn't able to share much, but had expressed an interest in helping.  Both sides of their family was centered around the Sydney area.  Rose had a "feeling" and requested that I make a mirror tree based on them as well.  I eagerly followed her direction- thankful that I had help from the Ancestry "hints".  Before long, I realized that  Eurekapub had missed something two generations back.  He had labeled his grandmother as having the maiden name "Andrews"- when, in fact, it appeared that it was "Anderson".  He had skipped a generation.  "Andrews" was actually his great grandmother's maiden name.  I corrected that error, continued as far back and out as I could and added my DNA in place of my match.
Before long it became evident that there seemed to be a possible connection.  There was a Walter Anderson in Eurekapub's tree- and HK's 2x g grandmother was also an Anderson.  They were both born in Sydney- about ten years apart.  Around the same time time, both Rose and I realized that the common relatives were probably HK's 3x g grandparents.  That could very well point to my family being on HK's mother's line- the one I had not been focusing on. Rose said that if that were the case- then it was pointing towards the "Fisher" line. That meant that the amount of DNA I shared with HK would point to one of his maternal uncles being my biological father.  Rose advised me to purchase his grandfather's death certificate (from 1972).  I did so and I now had a list of the Fisher children and their ages at the time of his death.  I added them to the mirror tree.  Though g grandpa had had four sons, only two were still alive in 1964.  

I had spent a fair amount of time perusing HK's Facebook page.  I had not "friend requested" him, but was able to view most of his "friends".  I had, by deduction, figured out who were cousins and which parent they were connected to.  Earlier I had noticed a cousin named Rob Fisher.  Upon clicking through to his profile, there was something familiar about him....I want to say that it felt as though he was as open a person as I am.  He freely shared many family photos, spoke lovingly of his family, and had constructed albums that he had tagged cousins in and invited them to participate.  I noticed that he loved cricket and aussie rules footy, aviation, his wife and two kids,  and worked with the disabled. He was obviously comfortable with expressing himself with words and was quite photogenic.  One album in particular was dedicated to the memory of his father.  His name was Clive and he appeared to have passed away around 2009.  Rob talked about his love of the outdoors and that he had a particular fondness for trees.  So much so, that he would pose his photography subjects in front of trees- so there was a theme in his photography.  It was charming and spoke volumes of Rob's love for his father.  There appeared to be two brothers as well- but they didn't seem to have Facebook pages.  

Upon the revelation that my match seemed to be focused on this particular line, I remembered Rob and how connected I had felt to him.

Meanwhile, another close match had shown up on my paternal line.

The next few events happened quickly, and there were so many that I've lost track of the timelines or exact order.  I will do my best to keep it succinct. My point is, as evidence began appearing, things started to fall into place.

I began getting leaf hints on my mirror tree.  The first was GC.  I reached out to the administrator and she shared that the match was her step-father.  He had a rather distinctive last name- so it wasn't hard to figure out where in the tree he connected.  My original match (HK) had a 2x g grandmother named Marjory Taylor.  She had a sister named Ann- who appeared to be GC's g grandmother.  This family had long been rooted in Bendigo, a town halfway between Melbourne and the NSW border.  The Fishers are also firmly connected to Bendigo.  In fact, Rob and his brothers and mother still live there.  This was a good, confirming hint.  
Over the next few days, as I managed to build the mirror tree up and out, more new matches with hints popped up.
Rose indicated that it was pretty evident that the Fishers were the family to focus on.

As Rob had appeared to be level headed I decided that he would be the most obvious person to reach out to.  His Facebook page indicated where he worked so I sent a message to their business page- as well as "friend requesting" his personal profile and sending him an inbox message saying that I thought we were probably cousins.
Within minutes, Rob responded.  He said he couldn't think how we could be related, so I gave him an abbreviated version of how I had arrived at that conclusion.  I explained my various DNA matches- particularly my close match to his cousin HK.  I, ever so gingerly explained that all evidence pointed to one of his grandfather William's sons being my father.  I explained that I was adopted and that even though I had been given a name, that person turned out to not be the one.  He was empathetic and, I think, interested.  I then asked him what he could tell me about his uncle Max.  I knew he could figure out on his own that Clive was also a candidate, but thought it best to focus on the less "shocking" option.  Rob told me that he had only met Max three times in his life and he believed that he now lived in the Philippines.  Before that, he had lived in Queensland.  This checked out as the only person I had found it the Electoral Rolls with his exact name had been in the Townsville area throughout the sixties and seventies.  We ended that first conversation with Rob promising to ask relatives about the whereabouts of Max.
The next day we spoke again, briefly, as Rob was busy at work.  He told me that he had spoken to his cousin who also didn't really know Max.  The last time he had visited Australia was 2009.  The cousin believed that Max had also contracted some form of cancer in the past few years and had likely passed away as well.

By now, Rob had accepted my friend request so I was able to see more of his family photos.  There were many of his dad at various stages of life.  He was in the Navy in the late 50's and there were photos of him onboard some ships as well as a couple of uniform portraits.  He was handsome and impish.  He had a twinkle in his eyes (that I noted bore a striking resemblance to my son) and full lips- as do I. Both Rob and Clive have a small widows peak.  I do as well.  I've been told that possession of a widows peak suggests a "dominant allele" in genetics.  It basically means that one of your parents most likely has one.  My mother does not.
There were a few pictures of Max and Clive together.  Max was taller, with sharper features.  I admit that you see what you want to see- and visuals are rarely proof of paternity.  It was hard not to feel that I favored Clive.  I had found his military records on Ancestry and discovered that he was 5'6" ish and had hazel eyes. This was a BIG tell.  My mother is 5'91/2".  When I met Malcolm (not my dad) he was well over 6 feet tall and had dark brown eyes.  I was always the shortest kid in my class- and have barely grown to beyond 5'3".  Also, I have green eyes with grey rims and brown flecks-often referred to as hazel.
Rob and I continued to converse over the next couple of days.  I discovered that he had an older sister as well.  She is exactly eleven months younger than me.  Rob explained that he believed his parents married soon after they met due to her pregnancy.  
This was comforting, I think, for both of us.  At least, if Clive were my father, he was definitely not yet married- and perhaps hadn't even met Rob's mother.
Finally, Rob and I both came to the conclusion that there was really only one way to find out the truth.  He could take a DNA test and it would tell us if we are cousins or half-siblings.  He agreed- though it was clear that he was unsure of what this meant for the future of his family as he knew it.  I assured him that he would be in control of the situation.  All I wanted was my answers.  I had no desire to upset a family and once the results came in, I would leave it up to him as how to proceed. 

That evening I was, once again, perusing Rob's Facebook gallery and came upon a photo I had never seen before.  It was of Clive, dressed in a green cap and gown, with a glorious smile on his face, waving a rolled up diploma.  The caption read-

My heart skipped a beat and tears spontaneously appeared.  All I could think was "God, I hope this is my dad".  This is the kind of persistence I aspire to. I believe you keep learning until the day you die. The joy and pride that he evoked was breathtaking. That picture told me everything I ever needed to know about the man that could be my father.
The next morning, an Ancestry DNA test was in the mail on it's way to Bendigo.

Now we wait.